Tilt-up construction may still be a relative newcomer in the building industry, but the Tilt-Up Concrete Association is already celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2006.
Those of us who were involved in the industry back in 1986 can attest to how far tilt-up has come and impart optimism for the future of the industry.
It's no secret that tilt-up construction is a growing market and quickly becoming a preferred building method in both the private and public business sectors. Of course, nobody understands this trend better than TCA. The association illustrated its understanding of the benefits that spurred tilt-up's growth with the organization's 2005 convention theme: "Tilt-Up 4 Today: Energy, Environment, Economy, Efficiency." When we sell tilt-up construction, these are four very important words. They have propelled the method to its position of growth, and they will undoubtedly continue to make tilt-up a beneficial selection for building owners and the communities they serve.
The same advantages that helped start tilt-up still ring true, but the sophistication level and application to new markets continues to expand. Today, we are creating smaller structures than we ever thought practical with tilt-up panels. Plus, as innovation continues, we are also taking tilt-up to new heights, continually breaking records — with panels reaching nearly 100 ft. in height and topping 300,000 lbs.
Testing the structural limits of tilt-up keeps engineers challenged, and the expanding architectural options keep architects creating buildings we never thought tilt-up could achieve. It's easy to see — just compare today's tilt-up with the more utilitarian applications and finishes of tilt-up buildings just a decade ago.
Instead of looking back at TCA's past 20 years, we can follow tilt-up as it shapes a positive future. Many of the trends have already started and will continue to gain strength.
Sustainability and green building will continue to be a hot topic. With the inherent properties of concrete and the natural energy efficiency of the method, more and more projects will benefit from sustainable design principles. Even if they are not officially certified as LEED buildings, tilt-up structures have a head start toward sustainable design.
Smaller structures — personal residences, band pavilions and air control towers — are becoming more routine. At the beginning of this decade the big box market evaporated, but many tilt-up contractors successfully adapted the fundamental efficiencies of tilt-up on significantly smaller footprints. Today, as we see the traditional tilt-up markets re-emerge, we are left with a dramatic demonstration of tilt-up's adaptability for buildings of all sizes.
As tilt-up construction continues to garner a larger and larger share of the building market, product manufacturers are following, and in some cases, leading the business. Makers of products devoted to architectural finishes are clamoring to get involved in the tilt-up industry by making their products easier to incorporate in the construction process. This trend benefits contractors by making their jobs easier, but it also benefits building owners by increasing the architectural options they can choose.
Retailers across the country — both large and small — are capitalizing on the enhanced architectural options. They are beginning to recognize that the tilt-up method provides retailers with architectural options that accent their corporate or brand identity. Plus, tilt-up allows them to meet aggressive construction schedules in a cost-effective manner. Whether it is a large lifestyle mall or a single retailer, time and image equal success, so helping retailers get to market sooner and more professionally will keep them coming back to tilt-up.
And, finally, schools will continue to be a booming market for tilt-up contractors. The benefits for school boards and their communities are endless — speed, economy, durability, energy efficiency, sound absorption, clear-span interiors and the list goes on. It's no wonder so many schools are looking to tilt-up for quick, cost-conscious construction.